As 3D printing expands across industries, many large corporations are feeling a bit uneasy as the way people shop and produce shifts into a new, never-before-seen model of commerce. To adapt to that new model, several of those companies have been turning to 3D printing themselves, working it in alongside the more traditional services they’ve been offering for decades. Lowe’s, for example, has added 3D printing and scanning services in several of their stores, and recently they launched a new online platform for bespoke 3D printed designs.
Another major company that has really embraced 3D printing is UPS. The logistics company started offering 3D printing services in several of their US stores in 2014, and this year they teamed up with supply chain company SAP to implement a widespread, on-demand, end-to-end 3D printing solution. Today, UPS has announced that they are expanding their on-demand 3D printing network to Singapore with the help of their partner, service bureau Fast Radius.
“3D printing will have a significant impact on industrial manufacturing and 21st Century supply chains,” said Ross McCullough, president of UPS Asia Pacific region. “At UPS, we are embracing disruptive technologies and integrating them into our global logistics network. We believe that much like ecommerce digitized and transformed retail, 3D printing will have a similar impact on manufacturing.
“UPS is the first integrated logistics provider to establish an on-demand 3D printing manufacturing and logistics network in Asia. This network will help Asia strengthen its position as a manufacturing hub.”
UPS will also be establishing an Advanced Solutions team in Asia, which will create a “Centre of Excellence” to further develop supply chain solutions and promote 3D printing to customers. The Fast Radius On Demand Production Platform, which is expected to be operational by the end of this year, will allow customers to order industrial 3D printed parts for expedited delivery. Companies who take advantage of the system can maintain a virtual inventory rather than a physical one, saving money and minimizing lead times by producing parts geographically closer to where they will be needed.
“UPS’s 3D printing Centre of Excellence reinforces Singapore as an innovation-driven economy,” said Michelle Ho, managing director of UPS in Singapore. “Having Fast Radius’ factory connected to UPS’s network means customers can send their 3D printing orders by 5 p.m. and have them delivered to their customers in most major Asian cities within 24 hours. The automotive, high tech, aeronautic and aviation, healthcare and retail industries have a lot of opportunity to take advantage of this type of manufacturing.”
The service is a beneficial one for both UPS and their customers. As more companies turn to on-demand 3D printing solutions, they reduce or even eliminate their need for warehouse storage, potentially affecting one of UPS’ major business areas. By going the digital route, UPS can still maintain their position as a logistics industry giant while their customers reduce inventory by producing on demand, and save transportation costs as products travel digitally.
“The decision to locate the first international on-demand 3D printing factory here is testimony to Singapore’s readiness to partner with logistics companies in creating innovative supply chain solutions. We recognize that additive manufacturing could potentially transform supply chains. We believe that deepening our capabilities in this area could further strengthen the logistics industry through business model innovation and the creation of new solutions,” said Lee Eng Keat, director of logistics, Singapore Economic Development Board.
In 2013, the government of Singapore announced that they would be setting aside $500 million over the course of the next five years for a Future of Manufacturing program. The initiative was developed for the purpose of growing new business models and manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing.
Once the new service is up and running, customers can place their orders for 3D printed parts either through the Fast Radius website or by going to the UPS House, the company’s Singapore headquarters. Fast Radius will then direct the order to a manufacturing location either in Singapore or the US, based on requirements involving speed, location and product quality. Meanwhile, in the United States, customers can already take advantage of the service at more than 60 of The UPS Store’s locations.
UPS is a minority investor in Fast Radius through the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund. The Fast Radius On Demand Production Platform marks the Georgia company’s first venture into the Asian market.
“Our expansion into Asia in partnership with UPS is a significant step in fulfilling our vision of a globally distributed manufacturing and distribution platform serving this rapidly growing industry,” said Rick Smith, CEO of Fast Radius. “Wohlers Report 2016 predicts the 3D printing industry will grow from $5.2 billion in 2015 to $26.5 billion in 2021. The report says that if 3D printing penetrates just five percent of the world manufacturing economy, it would reach $640 billion annually.”
Discuss further over in the UPS 3D Printing in Singapore forum at 3DPB.com.